OCEAN CITY — Cautiously optimistic there will be some semblance of a return to normalcy by then, resort officials this week discussed tentative plans for a Memorial Day celebration, including the return of the giant American flag on the beach.
Last year, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, Memorial Day weekend passed quietly and unceremoniously as few were ready to celebrate the traditional start to the summer season amid such gloom and doom. This spring, with many of Maryland’s key COVID metrics in steady decline and vaccines rolling out, albeit painstakingly, the hopes of a return to some semblance of a normal summer appear to improve each day.
To that end, the resort’s Tourism Commission on Monday discussed ramping up Memorial Day celebrations this year, including the possible return of the giant American flag on the beach. The giant flag measures over 45,000 square feet and is the one of the largest in the country. During Monday’s review of proposed special events this summer, TEAM Productions’ Bob Rothermel outlined tentative plans to bring the giant flag back this year after its absence in recent years.
“It’s time to bring back the big flag on Memorial Day,” he said. “We think it adds something very special. It’s a giant flag in the shape of the outline of the U.S. on the beach and the plan is to shine a bright blue light on it for the entire weekend.”
Mayor Rick Meehan said he hoped to recreate an iconic ceremonial planting of the first beach umbrella with Gov. Larry Hogan to signal the start of another, and hopefully safe and prosperous, summer season. In 1946, Governor Harry O’Connor and Ocean City Mayor Daniel Trimper, Jr. kicked off the summer season by meeting on the beach and planting the first ceremonial umbrella in the sand.
Over 70 years later, Meehan and Hogan re-created the famous photo-op and the mayor said during Monday’s meeting the plan was to bring it back again this year to kick off the Memorial Day weekend dedicated to first-responders and healthcare workers.
“We talked about bringing the big flag back, and maybe something with the governor where we re-create the 1946 event with the ceremonial planting of the first umbrella,” he said. “We didn’t do any of that last year because of COVID. We’d like to really kick off the season and really celebrate Memorial Day this year and recognize our first-responders.”
Meehan said it was appropriate to honor healthcare workers and first-responders this year in addition to the traditional honoring of servicemen and women who have lost their lives. The tentative plan includes having first-responders and front-line healthcare workers holding the giant flag on the beach. The giant flag could be first displayed on Memorial Day Friday and again on actual Memorial Day.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to our first-responders and our healthcare workers on the front lines,” he said. “This could really recognize those on the front lines during this crisis. I think it would really resonate with people.”
Meehan suggested coordinating with the resort’s private-sector hospitality industry perhaps on special room rates for first-responders and other front-line healthcare workers on the holiday weekend.
“We should coordinate with our hotel partners to offer special deals for our healthcare workers on the front lines and out first-responders,” he said. “I think we should do all of these things. It will be a nice way to kick off the season on a positive note and show some positivity heading into June.”